Cucumber Raita

Cucumber raita
Cucumber raita. The vase holds begonia blooms from my pots

With the heat of summer looming over us it’s time to become friends again with raita.:) But as I type this, I can hear the rustle of the March wind and last night it rained. Not in torrents but it was enough for the dust to settle and today I left most of our windows open without fear that clouds of dust would enter and settle on every surface possible!
But this season of transition from the pleasantest days of the year to the high heat of summer isn’t without its delights.The landscape is ablaze with the red of the Coral tree that attract many birds throughout the day. I didn’t venture out for the photos. This was taken in our neighbourhood. The mild fragrance of mango blossoms fills the air. The bees and the sparrows seem to love them. There’s always a noisy flock of sparrows on the higher reaches of our neighbour’s tree. Not too many blossoms on my tree this year, sadly.

Sparrows feast on the mango blooms and the Coral tree attracts many varieties of birds.

The raita I made accompanied a dish of vegetable biryani, pictured below. To serve 10-12 people you need:
1 kilo tender cucumber
500g thick plain curd
Rock salt to taste
Fine sugar as per taste
2 tsp roasted and ground cumin
1 tsp red chilli powder
Cut off the ends of the cucumbers and peel them. 
Grate them fine and leave to drain in a colander.
Transfer the curd to a large bowl and whisk it well. 
Add the sugar and the salt. Whisk again and adjust accordingly.
Press the grated cucumber against the colander to squeeze out as much of the juice as possible.
Add the drained cucumber to the curd and mix well.
Add the chilli powder and the roasted cumin by creating a design on the surface of the raita.
Chill till ready to use. Take it out at least 15 minutes before serving.

Vegetable biryani
Vegetable biryani

I did not really mix the spices in the curd. But a serving of it holds all the spices and you get a perfect blend. I did not add any mint or coriander in the raita as the biryani had a generous amount of dried mint. The potatoes were embellished with it!The other vegetable that I added were carrots cut into chunks. The biryani was decorated with boiled eggs, roasted almonds and walnuts. Apart from the raita, I had also made spicy chicken curry.
The juice from the cucumber makes such a refreshing drink. I usually add a dash of rock salt and finely chopped mint to it. A kilo sounds like a lot but with all the juice draining away, the amount is just right for the quantity of curd I mentioned.

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